For The Classic Cafe’ Racer, Thruxton Is Hard To Beat

Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 and Thruxton 1200 R.

  • 2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1200 cc
  • Price:
    13000
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757120
Anyone familiar with the cafe' racers of old will certainly recognize that look in the new Thruxtons.

Anyone familiar with the cafe’ racers of old will certainly recognize that look in the new Thruxtons. Obviously, the bullet-style seat makes the most tangible cafe’ connection, but the overall stance, kicked up exhaust and classic racing tank-flats play right into the genre. Personally, I like to see a side-by-side, twice-barrel shotgun exhaust coming straight back off the heads on cafe’ bikes, but I’m sure someone in the aftermarket already designed them for the new engine, and that’s a good way to put your thumbprint on the bike and stand out from the crowd.

The cafe’ racers of old were something of a blank canvas, and riders looking for visual distinction or an edge in performance had a number of options available to them. Triumph, in a move that shows an appreciation and understanding of this practice, offers custom packages, what it calls “Inspiration Kits,” for the Thruxton range that cover the bases for a sort of “factory custom” right off the showroom floor.

Triumph offers the Track Racer kit (US: A9938255) and the Cafe’ Racer kit (US: A9938256) that add the little cafe bullet fairing that is conspicuous by its absence on the stock models, slip-on mufflers, clip-on handlebars and a fear fender removal kit so you can clean the tail up and leave only the boat-tail rear seat cowl for that absolutely classic cafe’ look. Also included are a few bits and bobs to add to the styling. Overall, they’re nice packages to get a jumpstart on the look you want to develop.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757052
The chassis for each model diverges a bit with the “R” model reaching for the top shelf for its suspension and rolling gear.

A double-downtube, double-cradle, tubular steel frame sets the stage, and a good, old-fashioned, two-sided swingarm in aluminum finishes out the bones. Though both models run identical frames, the steering geometry varies just a skosh due to differences in the front suspension, with 22.7 degrees of rake and 3.57 inches of trail on the base Thruxton, and 22.8 degrees and 3.62 inches on the “R” model. Needless to say, these numbers point to an agile and fairly flickable ride.

At this point, the rolling chassis’ diverge a bit with the hang-on equipment showing varying degrees of race-worthiness. The base Thruxton 1200 rides on 17-inch, laced rims with Pirelli Angel GT hoops. A set of 41 mm, Kayaba, cartridge-type forks support the front, and a pair of Kayaba shocks with preload adjustment takes care of the rear, and both ends float on 4.72 inches of travel. Twin-pot Nissin calipers bind the dual, 310 mm front brake discs and the 220 mm rear with a switchable ABS as an elective safety net.

As you might expect, the “R” model reaches for the top shelf for its suspension and rolling gear. Like the base model, it too rolls on 17-inch rims but opts for the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa hoops. Inverted, 43 mm Showa “big piston” forks and Öhlins piggy-back shocks manage the bumps with the same 4.72 inches of travel as its sibling, but come fully adjustable so you can dial in your ride. A pair of four-pot, Brembo monobloc calipers bind the 310 mm front discs, and a twin-pot Nissin binds the rear. As with the base model, a switchable ABS moderates brake pressure to prevent loss of traction due to overbraking.

Model: Thruxton 1200 Thruxton 1200R
Frame: Tubular steel cradle Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, aluminum Twin-sided, aluminum - Clear anodized
Front Wheel: 32-spoke 17 x 3.5in 32-spoke 17 x 3.5in
Rear Wheel: 32-spoke 17 x 5in 32-spoke 17 x 5in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR 17 - Pirelli Angel GT 120/70 ZR 17 - Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17 - Pirelli Angel GT 160/60 ZR17 - Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
Front Suspension: Kayaba 41mm cartridge forks, 120mm travel Showa 43mm USD big piston forks, fully adjustable 120mm travel
Rear Suspension: Kayaba twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel Fully adjustable Ohlins twin shocks with piggy back reservoir , 120mm rear wheel travel
Front Brake: Twin 310mm discs, Nissin 2-piston axial floating calipers, ABS Brembo twin 310mm floating discs Brembo 4-piston radial monobloc calipers, ABS
Rear Brake: Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston axial floating caliper, ABS Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston axial floating caliper, ABS

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757020
Cafe's have always been more about agility and quickness rather than top-end speed; so as far as this genre goes, the Thruxton family is definitely pushing the performance envelope.

Even though the preponderance of features leave us with a decidedly racy look, it’s the engine that really drives the point home. This new Bonneville family mill measures out nearly half-again bigger than the previous (865 cc) generation, and comes with all sorts of delightfulness tucked away inside. First some basics. While the appearance is similar to the Trumpet “twingles” of old, it runs a 270-degree offset in the throws that changes to old “lawnmower” sound to something with a little more sexiness.

Oversquare, the 97.6 mm bore and 80 mm stroke (times twain) adds up to right at 1200 cc. A SOHC valvetrain actuates the four-valve heads, and since it’s a liquid-cooled mill, the water jacket helps to attenuate some of the mechanical noises from the engine while protecting rider and passenger from the heat washing up from the engine while stopped at a light.

A multipoint fuel injection system works within throttle bodies that look remarkably like the old mechanical slide carburetors, and a ride-by-wire throttle system enables the use of a traction control system and three separate rider modes for variable conditions. So far we have ABS, traction control and rider modes for road, rain and sport — all good stuff and most welcome on such a race-tastic bike — but Triumph goes for broke by throwing in another layer of traction protection in the form of a slipper clutch on the six-speed gearbox to prevent wheel hop as you scrub speed ahead of a turn. This type of clutch also comes with the added benefit of reducing left-hand effort at the clutch lever, so it’s a win-win feature all the way around.

Now for the metrics. At 4,950 rpm, this lump cranks out 82.6 pound-feet of torque with a maximum power output of 97 ponies at 6,750 rpm. Keep in mind that this is on a bike that weighs in at only 448 pounds dry, so that should be ample power for a thrilling ride. Sure, this isn’t quite into the “power-cruiser” numbers, but cafe’s have always been more about agility and quickness rather than top-end speed, so as far as this genre goes, the Thruxton family is definitely pushing the performance envelope.

Model: Thruxton 1200 Thruxton 1200R
Engine: Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Capacity: 1200cc 1200cc
Bore/Stroke: 97.6 x 80 mm 97.6 x 80 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1 11.0:1
Maximum Power: 97 PS/ 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6,750 rpm 97 PS/ 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6,750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 112 Nm @ 4,950 rpm 112 Nm @ 4,950 rpm
Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Chromed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin chrome silencers Brushed stainless steel 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin silencers
Final drive: X ring chain X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed 6-speed

Price

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757001
The “R” model comes with a bit more of a race-tastic package, it's no surprise that you're going to have to skin that checkbook a little harder to score one.

The base model Thruxton 1200 starts out at $13,000 MSRP, which is a carry-over from last year. Beings how the “R” model comes with a bit more of a race-tastic package, it’s no surprise that you’re going to have to skin that checkbook a little harder to score one. Still, at $15,000 it’s not priced too awful much higher than the base model. As usual, you can look forward to tax, tag and title inflating this a bit, but since the dealer controls the actual sale price, you might be able to work out a better deal.

Model: Thruxton 1200 Thruxton 1200R
Colors:
2016: Competition Green, Jet Black Silver Ice, Diablo Red
2017: Competition Green, Jet Black Matte, Silver Ice, Diablo Red
2018: Phantom Black, Brooklands Green Matte, Silver Ice, Diablo Red, Crystal White
Price:
2016: $12,500 $14,500
2017, 2018: $13,000 $15,000

Competitor

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757003
If you want both classic cafe' racer looks and performance, the Thruxton is hard to beat.

As a style, the cafe’ racer concept gets tossed around a lot, with manufacturers playing fast and loose with the name. To some, simply throwing a bullet fairing on a small cruiser is enough to warrant the name. But to others, the genre is sacrosanct and certain criteria simply must be met in order to qualify as a proper cafe’ racer. Because of the larger-than-usual engine displacement, I had difficulty finding a true apples-to-apples comparison, so instead I want to cover some similar models that don’t quite match up, but may appeal to someone considering one of the Thruxtons.

Royal Enfield Continental GT

2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT
- image 758086

First off, I want to consider aesthetics, and as far as pure-cafe’ design goes I challenge anyone to do better than the Continental GT from Royal Enfield. If you think this ride looks like something straight out of the ’60s, you would be correct, ’cause that’s just about what it is. Royal Enfield set up a factory in India back in the day, mainly to save on shipping since the Asian market in general, and India specifically, saw vast numbers of bikes snapped up by both the civilian and government sectors, and very little has changed outwardly since then.

Set beside the Thruxton, you can easily see why I picked it based on looks alone. To be fair, RE went to the trouble of throwing electronic fuel injection on its antique-looking GT, and modernized the brakes and suspension a bit, but the 535 cc engine, as cute as it is, just doesn’t cut the mustard compared to the 1200 cc Thruxton lump. The GT thumper cranks out a modest 29 horsepower and 32.4 pound-feet of torque versus the 97 horsepower and 82.6 pound-feet from the Bonneville-powered Thruxton.

Royal Enfield gets a win at the till at round 6 grand, less than half of the 12.5 k minimum MSRP on the Thruxton, but looks and price alone aren’t enough to carry the day. As much as I like it, the GT is more of an exercise in living history than a true contender on the streets.

Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe’

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
- image 745115

Next up is really a cafe’ in name only, and it comes from our friends at Kawasaki. The Kawi Vulcan S Cafe’ represents a modern interpretation on the classic CR theme, and while it hints at the genre, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it takes more than a bullet fairing to properly tie into the cafe’ name.

That said, it still may appeal to riders looking for something a little different. Right off the bat you will notice the engine is still near the bottom of the spectrum at 649 cc, even though it punches above its weight with 46.3 pound-feet at 6,600 rpm. One good thing about small engines is the small price tag that usually accompanies them, and the Vulcan S Cafe’ is no exception. At $7,999, it won’t make your wallet scream, but neither is it a true cafe’ racer; just accept it for what it is.

Harley-Davidson Street 750

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
- image 644707

Also not really a CR, but close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades, is the Street 750 from Harley-Davidson. A tiny bullet fairing trends the looks in the right direction, and the tapered “Mustang-style” saddle sort of simulates the old-school CR seat, so in this respect it is fair to say it leans in the right direction. At 753.8 cc, the lump falls well below the Thruxton’s, and the 44.5 pounds of grunt can’t touch the 82.6 pound-feet from the Bonnie mill, either. Again, Harley wins on price (I don’t get to say that very often) with a $7,549 sticker, and again, the smaller powerplant is the trade off.

Bolt C-Spec

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 662354

Yamaha’s cruiser line, Star Motorcycles, probably hits closest to the mark with its Bolt C-Spec. While not officially marketed as a proper CR, it’s obvious the designers were looking to reproduce that panache. Short bars pull the rider forward into the racing position, and the tapered pillion area on the saddle comes with a sheet-metal spoiler complete with a racing-style number. Not quite the same as the CR boat-tail fairing, but you can tell what they were shooting for at least. The 942 cc V-twin mill still falls a skosh short of the cubeage contained in the Thruxton plant, and naturally that shows up in the price. C-Spec buyers can expect to shell out around $8,690, so entry-level riders are in luck, and in my humble opinion, you get a good-looking machine for your money.

Bottom line here: it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want both classic CR looks and performance, the Thruxton is hard to beat. If, on the other hand, you are content with “close enough,” any one of the above may fit your criteria.

He Said

“Ya know, sometimes it’s really hard to beat the Brits, and this is one of those times. The classic looks, unmistakable Triumph DNA and serious engine capabilities drive the Thruxton to the top of my personal CR wish list. Sure, I could get a kit to turn my Sporty into a CR, but it won’t quite be the same as these ground-up reproductions. One could almost be forgiven for gigging Triumph for its shameless repurposing of the classic Thruxton, but seriously, what good are deep roots if you never draw on them?”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I like this new generation of Thruxton. It was originally released in 1965 as a limited edition café racer, but with the popularity of the return to the classic bike styles, Triumph reintroduced it in 2004 as the Thruxton 900. Now we see a bump in cc with the 1200, which is rather big for a traditional café racer but opens the style up for folks who want that bigger engine.”

Specifications

Model: Thruxton 1200 Thruxton 1200R
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin: Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC,
270° crank angle parallel twin
Capacity: 1200cc: 1200cc
Bore/Stroke: 97.6 x 80 mm: 97.6 x 80 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1: 11.0:1
Maximum Power: 97 PS/ 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6750 rpm: 97 PS/ 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 112 Nm @ 4950 rpm: 112 Nm @ 4950 rpm
Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Chromed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin chrome silencers: Brushed stainless steel 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin silencers
Final drive: X ring chain: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel cradle Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, aluminum Twin-sided, aluminum - Clear anodized
Front Wheel: 32-spoke 17 x 3.5in 32-spoke 17 x 3.5in
Rear Wheel: 32-spoke 17 x 5in 32-spoke 17 x 5in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR 17 - Pirelli Angel GT 120/70 ZR 17 - Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17 - Pirelli Angel GT 160/60 ZR17 - Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
Front Suspension: Kayaba 41mm cartridge forks, 120mm travel Showa 43mm USD big piston forks, fully adjustable 120mm travel
Rear Suspension: Kayaba twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel Fully adjustable Ohlins twin shocks with piggy back reservoir , 120mm rear wheel travel
Front Brake: Twin 310mm discs, Nissin 2-piston axial floating calipers, ABS Brembo twin 310mm floating discs Brembo 4-piston radial monobloc calipers, ABS
Rear Brake: Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston axial floating caliper, ABS Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston axial floating caliper, ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 2105 mm 2105 mm
Width (Handlebars): 745 mm 745 mm
Height Without Mirrors: 1030 mm 1030 mm
Seat Height: 805 mm 810 mm
Wheelbase: 1415 mm 1415 mm
Rake: 22.7º 22.8º
Trail: 90.8 mm 92 mm
Dry Weight: 206 Kg 203 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 L 14.5 L
Details:
Standard Equipment: Switchable ABS, Switchable Traction Control, Ride-by-Wire Riding Modes, LED DRL headlight, Monza cap, USB socket, Immobilizer, LED rear light Switchable ABS, Switchable Traction Control, Ride-by-Wire Riding Modes, LED DRL headlight, Monza cap, USB socket, Immobilizer, LED rear light, Tank strap, Seat Cowl
Emissions Standard: EURO 4 EURO 4
Fuel Consumption: 4.6 l/100km (61 MPG) 4.6 l/100km (61 MPG)
Emissions: CO2 - 106.0 g/km CO2 - 106.0 g/km
Colors:
2016: Competition Green, Jet Black Silver Ice, Diablo Red
2017: Competition Green, Jet Black Matte, Silver Ice, Diablo Red
2018: Phantom Black, Brooklands Green Matte, Silver Ice, Diablo Red, Crystal White
Price:
2016: $12,500 $14,500
2017, 2018: $13,000 $15,000

References

Royal Enfield Continental GT

See our look at the Royal Enfield Continental GT.

Kawasaki Vulcan S

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
- image 745113

See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S.

Harley-Davidson Street 750

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
- image 731666

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street 750.

Yamaha Bolt

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 662354

See our review of the Yamaha Bolt.

Source: Triumph Thruxton Family Brochure

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: triumphmotorcycles.com, yamaha-motor.com, harley-davidson.com, royalenfield.com

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